International Chihuahuan Desert Transboundary Corridor
Within the TransboundaryCorridor,which has beendesignated as a high priority conservation area, aresix large ?protected? areasincluding Cañon de Santa Elena Área deProtección de Flora yFauna and Maderas del CarmenÁrea de Protección de Flora yFauna in Mexico and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and Big Bend National Park inthe United States
1997Letter of Intent signed bythe United States and Mexico, and the La Paz and North American Free Trade Agreements have established a basis for binational cooperative activities at the national level.
Four of the five respondents identified funding as the most influential factor in their abilityto manage wildlife and biodiversity. All five managers expressed interest in participating in binational collaborative management programs.
Analyses of continentalbiodiversity patterns indicate that this ecoregion is also among the most biologically diverse in North America (Ricketts et al. 1999)
United States portion of the Chihuahuan Desert have identified at least 2,260 plant species, 250 bird species, 100 mammalian species, and a diversity of invertebrates that includes nearly 250 butterfly species. Endemism is most pronounced among the Chihuahuan Desert flora, withsome1,000 endemic plant species including several Cactaceae (Johnston 1977, Hernandez and Barcenas 1995)
endemic fish species, includingpupfish (Cyprinodonspp.), cichlids (Cichlasomaspp.), and poeciliids (Gambusiaspp.; Miller 1977, Minckley 1977).
Chihuahuan Desert TransboundaryCorridor (CDTC) was identified as a high prioritysite for the conservation of both terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.
landscape of this region is extremelyvaried, and includes mountains, foothills, deserts, canyons, riparian corridors, and the Rio Grande/Río Bravo
When an Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna is established in Mexico, there is no transferalof land tothe government and ownershipof lands within the area typically include a combination of ejidos (communal lands), privately-owned lands, and incorporated communities.Thus, while the Áreas de Protección de Flora yFauna are managed bythe Instituto Nacional de Ecología (a department of La Secretaría de Medio Ambiente yRecursos Naturales- SEMARNAT)
Active programs in Cañon deSanta Elena include environmental education in ejidosand the community of Manuel Benevidas (aka ?San Carlos?), particularlyrelating to black bears and the monarch butterfly, animal husbandry,vegetative inventory and mapping, research on soil erosion, and the recovery of candelilla.
Active programs in Maderas del Carmen include the development of a historical museumin the border communityof Boquillas, fire monitoring and control, construction and monitoring of vegetation enclosures, monitoring peregrine falcons and their nesting success. The area staff alsoworks with the local ejidosand communities on education about the environment, wildlife, and natural resources.
Big Bend National Park currently supportsnumerous studies, someof which include air quality monitoring,bats, mountain lions and black bears, peregrine falcons, water qualityand quantityinthe Rio Grande, and area historyand paleontology. Some other projects include eradication of Tamarisk along the Rio Grande, GIS mapping ofpark resources, and monitoring rare plant communities. The park also offers binational workshops (i.e. fire management), and provides numerous interpretive programs and opportunities for public recreation (camping, hiking, rafting, wildlife viewing, auto tours, etc.).
big bend ranch state park Biodiversity inventories, studies on bats (Texas Tech), small mammals (Texas Tech), mountain lions (TPWD), and geology(University of Texas, Sul Ross), KORIMA Foundation activities for urban students (Sul Ross), workshops (desert survival and photography), and longhorn cattle drives. Public recreation opportunities include primitive camping, hiking, rafting, hunting(quail, mule deer, javelina, aoudad, and ibex), swimming, bicycling, auto tours, wildlife viewing, and horseback riding.
Black gap wildlife management area Biodiversity inventories, wildlife studies (mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, black bear, peregrine falcon, and elf owl). Public recreation opportunities include primitive camping, hiking, hunting (dove, quail, mule deer, javelina, and rabbit), fishing, bicycling, autotours, wildlife viewing, and horseback riding.
Chihuahuan Desert in common, they are separated by an international boundary, cultural and economic differences, and differing management goals.
Arthur Gomez characterizes the Chihuahuan Desert TransboundaryCorridor as a ?region of conflict and cultural mistrust? (Gomez 1995)
Regional hostilities started during the Spanish colonial rule of Mexico in the 16th century. The northward migration of Spanish settlers into the Big Bend region between 1550 and 1600 resulted inconflict with native inhabitants. In the 17th century, the regional Indian tribes (Apache, Comanche, and Mescaleros) ?wreaked havoc? on communities throughout the Trans boundary Corridor and forced Spanish settlers out of Texas (Gomez 1995). In an attempt to protect settlers and drive the indigenous tribes out of the area, Spain proceeded to establish a series of presidios along the Rio Grande/Río Bravo. The presidios did little toameliorate conflict in the region, and Indians continued to attack settlers evenafter Mexico gained its independence fromSpain in 1821. The turbulent 17th century concluded with several significant social disruptions that forever changed the region. The most significant of these changes involved the extirpation of the Conchos Indians, the retreat of the Tarahumara Indians into the Sierra Madre, and the arrival of the Apache Indians who inhabited the lands previously occupied bythe Conchos and Tarahumaras.
American expansionism into Texas during the 1820s renewed regional conflict, this time pitting Mexico against the United States. In 1836, American settlers rebelled against Mexican rule and eventually forced Texas? independence from Mexico. A decade later, the United States?pursuit of Manifest Destinyresulted in the Mexican-American War, which concluded with the cession of nearly half of the Mexican territory to the United States. As American occupation of the borderregion increased after the War, local Indian tribes ?launched a furious assault in retaliation against the unwelcome intruders? (Gomez 1995). The United States? ?forceful? militaryresponse included pursuit ofIndians into Mexico, which created international tensions due to?the violation of Mexico?s territorial sovereignty?(Gomez 1995).
There was an increase cross-border crime in Transboundary Corridor during the late 19th and early 20 th centuries. The prelude to the Mexican Revolution was a turbulent period when criminals ?terrorized defenseless farmers and ranchers? living along the border (Gomez 1995). The lossof American lives at the hand of regional criminal and America?sdisregard for Mexico?s territorial sovereigntyrenewed international tensions and brought the neighboring countries to the ?brink of war? that was only averted through intense negotiations (Gomez 1995). Political stabilityinMexicoand the United States? commitment to improving diplomatic relations throughthe Good Neighbor policy largelybrought an end toovert conflict in the transboundaryregion inthe late 1920s.
From the Mexican perspective, the periodbetween 1841 and 1848 was a critical one along the frontier. The subject of ceding Texas and other lands to the United States was hotly debated among the different political parties. Many Mexicans favored defending their territory, and for many years Mexico fought against the United States for national sovereignty. However, Mexico was ultimatelyforced to accept a difficult and painful negotiation at the Treatyof Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1948. This Treatynotonlyestablished a definitive international border between Mexico and the United States, but it also allowed settlers fromthe eastern United Statesto displace the Spanish and Mexicanpeoples who had inhabited the Chihuahuan Desert TransboundaryCorridor for centuries.
The long and complex historyof this region includes over 350 years of hostility between Americans, Mexicans, and indigenous peoples.
U.S. Congressman C.B.Hudspeth of ElPaso introduced the first legislative bills for a national park in the Big Bend in 1924 and 1929 (Jameson 1987)
amazingviews of the Mexican landscape and the magnificent canyons of the Rio Grande River. The Great Depressionand the Dust Bowl of the 1930?s stimulated interest in a Big Bend national park (Welsh 2001). These economicand ecological crises harmed the ranching and oil industries that had defined the regional economy,and the creation of a national park was envisioned as a major economic catalyst that would lift the area out of the Great Depression (Nash 1977). WhenFranklin D. Roosevelt was elected to his first termasAmerican president in 1933, he immediatelysought to remedythe country?s economic problems byinstituting the ?New Deal?. The New Deal had important implications for the creation of a national park in Big Bend. First, itresulted in the establishment of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) campin the Big Bend area, creating national recognition of the region. Second, one component ofthe administration?s economic reformpackage was expansion of the national park system ? Finally, Roosevelt?s ?Good Neighbor Policy?, which embodied the principles of friendship,cooperation, and non-interference with neighboring nations, sought to create parks, monuments, and wildlife reserves along the international borders.
Simultaneous with implementation of Roosevelt?s New Deal and Good Neighborpolicies, Lazaro Cardenas was elected aspresident of Mexico in 1934. One key aspect of Cardenas?reform movement was environmental preservation and the protection of natural resources, and he continued the environmental policies initiated bypresident Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada in 1876 toestablish protected areas throughout Mexico (Beltrán 1974, Simonian 1996). Cardenas was the most active Mexican president with regards to creating national parks and protected areas, creating 36protected areas encompassing a total of nearlytwo million acres during his tenure (Gómez and Dirzo 1995)
first Mexican federal legislation (Forest Law of 1926) aimed at forest protection (Instituto Nacional de Ecología 1999).
1934, the Texas State Parks Board informed the National Park Service (NPS)... attempting to obtain one million acres in the Big Bend ? like amount on the Mexican side of the river? (Welsh 2001).
?create ties of kindly sentiment that would multiplyand become stronger between the Mexican and American peoples, now almost unknown toeach other? (Jameson 1977, Welsh 2001).
zona libre? wherein tourists from either countrywould be free of all customs and immigration regulations (Welsh 2001).
support forsuch a park that was exhibited during the Cardenas administration has never been regained (Instituto Nacional de Ecología 1999).
final official action of either government relative to the international parkoccurred in October 1937 when Mexico accepted the proposed boundaries for the park (Welsh 2001). While interest in the idea continued, the inabilityofTexas to acquire propertyfor the U.S. portion of the park, deteriorating relations between Mexico and the United States, and the initiation ofWorld War II, ultimately undermined the creation of an international park in Big Bend. Although the concept lost political momentum at the national level after 1937, local and regional support continued. The Town of Alpinecontinued topromote the idea for economic revitalization throughoutthe late 1930s and early 1940s. The State of Texas finally acquired 700,000 acres for the national park in 1942 and Big Bend National Park was born with the transfer of these lands to the NPS on June 12, 1944(Anderson 1967).
NPS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 1944 identified an abundance ofwildlife on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande/Río Bravo, and for the first time explicit support forthe proposed international park derived from an ecological perspective. Dr. Walter Taylor noted that, as Mexico represented the ?center of abundancefor someof the Big Bend mammals,? the establishment of an international park on the Mexican side would facilitate restoration of several species that had been extirpated fromthe American side, including bighorn sheep, pronghorn, black bear, and gray wolf (Welsh 2001).This was the first time that endorsement of the international park formally centered onpotential ecological benefits.
countries signed the 1983 Cooperation for the Protection and Improvement of the Environment in the Border Area and an agreement of understanding was signed bythe NPS and the Mexican states of Coahuila and Chihuahuain 1988 to promote cooperative research and preservation activities
encouraging local economic development via non-consumptive activities such as eco-tourism
Cañon de Santa Elena Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna (CSE) was established bydecree on November7, 1994.
Maderas del Carmen Áreade Protección de Flora y Fauna(MDC) was established by decreein 1994 ? protect the Sierra del Carmen mountains
conserve native habitats and biological diversity, protect the fragile ecosystem, preserve evolutionary and ecological processes, and develop programsfor the sustainable use of the natural resources (SEMARNAP1997).
Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, unofficially ?provide an area designed to demonstrate to private landowners the feasibility of tested wildlife management practices? and ?provide a place where research may be conducted and where controlled experimental management practices may be adequately demonstrated.?
The primary objectives for the BGWMA include resource management (plants, wildlife, and communities), research of wildlife populations and habitats, and publichunting and compatible non-consumptive uses (TPWD 1994)
[also unofficial] According to the Big Bend Ranch State Park management plan (TPWD 1988), the state purchased these lands to: ?preserve intact a large expanse of the Trans-Pecos ecosystem containing remarkably diverse natural and cultural resources largely unchanged from historic times. Itis significant for its abundance of flora, fauna, geologic,and hydrological resources singly and in combinationsthat are rarely found in the Chihuahuan Desert.?
environmental education in local schools, training workshops relating to desert survival, recovery of archaeological/cultural artifacts, and ecotourism,and assisting Mexican officials with protection of dinosaur bones and fossils
Big Bend National Park is ultimately administered pursuant to the 1935 enabling legislation (49 Stat. 393) and the Organic Act of 1916 (39 Stat. 535). The enabling legislation states that ?lands? as necessaryfor recreational park purposes? are herebyestablished, dedicated and set apart as a public park for the benefit and enjoyment of the people?, and stipulates that ?administration, protection, and development of the aforesaid park? are subject to the provisions of the Organic Act of 1916 (?Organic Act?). The Organic Act states that the purpose of national parks is ?to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoymentof the same insuch manner and bysuch means aswillleave themunimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.?
[official] ?The National Park Service at Big BendNationalParkpreserves and protects a representative area of the Chihuahuan Desert along the Rio Grande for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. The park includes rich biological and geological diversity, cultural history, recreational resources, and outstanding opportunities for binational protection of shared resources.? 
(Frank Deckert, NPS, personal communication). Mr. Deckert noted that there are no funds appropriated for such activities, and that even the basic park programs are currently under-funded [2001?)
Asa federal agency, park activities are governed by a host of federal legislative mandates such as the Antiquities Act of 1906, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These Actshaveno provisions that pertain to international collaboration.
[BBNP is international in some projects such as] Chihuahuan Desert Biosphere Reserve, and is also responsible for the management of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programin 1968 to?develop thebasis, withinthe natural and the social sciences, for the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity, and for the improvement of the relationship between people and their environment globally? (UNESCO 2001). MAB designates ?Biosphere Reserves? throughoutthe world pursuant to itsmission ofreconciling the dual goalsof conservingbiodiversityand promoting economic/social development. Biosphere reserves are representative of major bioregions, and contain an important ecosystem and varying intensities of human use/activity. Reserves function as natural laboratories for developing and implementing individualized programs that promote sustainable development, and typically consist of three concentric zones that support differing intensities of human use. These zones include a legally protected inner ?core? area for scientific research, a middle managed-use ?buffer? area supporting limited human activity (i.e., experimental research and tourism), and an outer ?transition? zone in which conceptual strategies for sustainable development are tested.
The Chihuahuan Desert Biosphere Reserve was designated in 1976, and is comprised of three sites; BBNP in Texas, Jornada ExperimentalRange in New Mexico, and Mapimiin the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango. BBNP serves as the reserve core since it represents a relatively pristine, fully protected portion of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, managed byone of four federal agencies (U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, or National Park Service), Wild and Scenic River neither gives nor implies government controlof private lands within the river corridor, and managementrestrictions apply onlytopubliclands.
Congress authorized 191 miles of the Rio Grande River between river miles 842 (Mariscal CanyoninBBNP) and 651 (boundary of Terrell Countyand Val Verde County, Texas) as Wild and Scenic in 1978 topreserve the free-flowing character and natural and scenic conditions
69 miles that are within the boundaries of BBNP
1889 International Boundary and Water Commission, transformed the IBC into the International Boundaryand Water Commission (IBWC), and broadened itspurview toinclude issues regarding water quality,conservation, and use along the boundary, and apportioning the waters inthese rivers
Agreement on Cooperation for the Protection and Improvement of the Environment in the BorderArea In 1983 [w/ mex] to reduce air, water, and land pollutionwithin a zone extending 100 kilometers (62 miles) either side of the international boundary ? six binational workgroups todevelopand implement cooperative projects
Border XXI is to promote a clean environment, protect public health and natural resources, and encourage sustainable development. ? Secretariat for Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAP)and the Secretariat for Social Development (SEDESOL) in Mexico, and the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), and Department of Agriculture (USDA)in the United States. Border XXI is implemented through ninebinational workgroups
1992 Integrated Environmental Plan for the Mexican-U.S. Border Area (IBEP) ? economicgrowth is dependent upon environmental protection. IBEP objectives included increased cooperative planning and education
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed byCanada, the United States, and Mexico in 1994 to foster increasedtrade among these nations
U.S.-Mexico Border Field Coordinating Committee (FCC) The Department of Interior- FCC was established in1994 toenhance management and conservation of shared natural resources along the United States-Mexico border
synthesis of current habitatconservation activities along the UnitedStates-Mexico Border;
cooperative, binational nestsurveys for sea turtles, including the endangered Kemps Ridley;
survey of threatened and endangered species on tribal lands along the United States-Mexico border;
transboundarygap analysisof biological conservation for the Rio Grande ecosystemin Mexico;
habitat suitabilitystudies and population estimates for the Yuma clapper rail in Mexico;
determination of in-stream flow and habitat requirements for indigenous fish andriparian vegetation along the lower Rio Grande;
training courses on ?Management of Protected Areas? involving the Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, Profauna, NPS, and USFWS;
a binational assessment of natural resources along the Rio Grande; and
jaguar research in northeastern Sonora, Mexico.
United States Geological Survey (USGS) established the Lower Rio Grande EcosystemInitiative (LRGEI) to address research and information needs on the biotic resources ofthe river and adjacent terrestrial habitats.
evaluating effects of contaminants on fish in the Rio Grande River;
identifyingecological and contaminant issues inresacas (oxbows) in the Lower Rio Grande Valley;
examining peregrine falcon reproductionin the vicinityof Big BendNational Park;
creating a geographic information system(GIS) database of Mexican lands adjacent to the lower Rio Grande River; and
developing a bibliographic database on natural resources of the Rio Grande River
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) International Affairs office ?works multilaterallywith many partners and nations in the implementation of international treaties, conventions, and on-the-ground projects for conservation of species and the habitats on which they depend? (USFWS 2001)
develop personnel resources to effectively managenatural resources;
conserve habitats, buffer zones, corridors, and other designations associated with protected areas;
raise public awareness on a local and regional basis to promote conservation;
catalyze conservation partnerships at the local and international levels; and
promote communication and information exchange among communities, institutions, and countries.
USFWS and SEMARNAP cooperation in natural resource conservation continues today with programs on migratory birds, endangered species, wetlands, and protected areas. Over the past decade this collaboration has increased pursuant to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation.
NPS United States-Mexico Affairs Office
enhancing communications between the National Park Service and United States-Mexico agencies;
developingspecialized education programs for United States-Mexicomanagers:
enhancing NPS-Mexico research programs; and
cooperating with United States-Mexico organizations for the establishment of protected natural areas in both countries.
Current projects of this office include training on management of natural protected areas, development of environmental interpretation programs in Mexican natural protected areas, and aninternational forumon cooperative management of natural, cultural, and recreational resources.
Texas Parks and Wildlife International Affairs, On May 5, 1997, DOI SecretaryBruce Babbitt and SEMARNAP SecretaryJulia Carabias Lillo signed a Letter of Intent entitled Joint Work in Natural Protected Areas on the United States-Mexican Border ? ?good faith? (Susan Goodwin, DOI U.S.-Mexico Coordinator, personal communication)
2.41 million protected acres within the CDTC
five protected areas in this region have similar general missions, the specific goals and activities within these areas differ considerably
general missions of the protected areas are similar, and involve the protection and management of natural and cultural resources
Table 1. A Summary of the Questionnaire Responses
Fundingappears to be one of the most significant constraints relative to the development and implementation of cooperative managementprograms
?Political boundaries have little to do with ecological realities?
cooperative or collaborative approaches have gained popularity over the past two decades 
[work together benefits]
preserve/re-establish migration routes and movementcorridors
coordinated eradication of exotic species (i.e. Tamarixspp.)
create sustainable livelihoods for adjacent communities (i.e. ejidos)
[many others that aren't so hot]
Overcoming economic and sociopolitical differences will be a crucial element in the development and implementation of binational, collaborative programs in the TransboundaryCorridor.
pumas (Puma concolor)
Figure 3. A Generic Framework for Collaborative Management [more in App A]
Grumbine (1994),ecosystem management integrates scientific knowledge intothe complex sociopolitical decision-making framework to promote the general goal of protecting the long-termintegrity of native ecosystems.
Use of ecological boundaries? management is based upon ecological rather than political and/or social boundaries;
Adaptive Management approach? facilitates ?learning bydoing? in recognition that natural resource management is an inherently complex and uncertain process.
significant general overall benefit of collaborative programs is often referred to as ?capacitybuilding? (Singh 1999). Capacity building refers to the development of a group?score skills and abilities, which in this case would include regional-level and protection ofbiodiversity, coordinated or ?harmonized? management goals and objectives, exchange and dissemination ofinformation, and resource efficiency(sharing staff, expertise, programcosts, etc.).
Over the past decade, manyfederal agencies in the United States have started to use the adaptive management process (AM)for the management of ecosystemsandassociated biodiversity.This new paradigmhas arisenin response to the inabilityof previous management programs to preserve ecosystems and biodiversityand to arrest the decline of species (Gray2000). While AM is a vague term, the essenceof AM is relatively straightforward? it is a formal process designed to improve natural resource management byhelping managers and scientists learn from consequences of operational programs (Holling 1978). Simplystated, it is ?learning bydoing?.
program performance is monitored and assessed relative to the programgoals. The program is occasionally modified based upon its results to improve overall effectiveness and efficiency. As noted by Johnson (1999), the overall goal of AM is not so much to maintain anoptimal stateof the resource, as it is to develop an optimal management strategy.
Figure A-1. The Adaptive Management Process
?Fundamentally, successful collaborative efforts are built on human relationships? (Yaffee and Wondolleck 2000).
While relationship building is often done through formal workshops and conferences, informal meetings, field trips, and other activities can also be beneficial.
Figure 3. A Generic Framework for Collaborative Management [more in App A]
[Example of Collaborative effort]
Task 1: Formal and informal discussions, icebreakers, and workshop sessions provide a forumfor developing working relationships
Task 2: Select issue/topic to be addressed cooperatively
Task 3: Create programnameto help establish an identitythat can be used forpolitical support and awareness, fundraising, and general public relationspurposes [lol]
Task 4: Assign an oversight committee to organize, coordinate, and managethe project.
Task 5: Withthe assistance of the facilitator andinvolved NGO?s, the managers will identify ?experts? who will be invited to workshop #2; 1) a scientific expert with expertise on mountain lions; 2) a funding expert with expertise on wildlife programs, international programs, and cooperative programs; and 3) a policy expert with expertise in agencies and international settings
between workshop 1 and 2: Managers are responsible for gatheringinformation on the ?status? of mountain lions withintheir areas.
Task 1: Each managerpresents a state of the issue report on mountain lions for their area
Task 2: Given the information derived from Task1, the next step is to identifyprogram goals
Task 3: Experts, who have listened to the previous two tasks, give presentations Scientific, Funding, Policy Experts
Task 4: Managers develop the Implementation Plan Action program? The action program presents the detailsof fieldwork and data analysis associated with the mountain lion research project
Interlude Between Workshops #2 and #3 Implementation plan is initiated.
Task 1: Project status report by oversight committee.
Task 2: Identification of problems or impediments thathave been experienced during the project.
Task 3: Discussion of project goals and necessary revisions
Task 4: Revise programs within Implementation plan